The Field - The Follower

by Justin Pearson Rating:8 Release Date:2016-04-01

Concerning his latest album as The Field, Axel Willner was recently quoted as saying "The Follower is about old myths, finding utopia and how mankind repeatedly makes the same mistakes over and over." While a utopian headspace could be found on any recording by The Field, The Follower somehow makes Willner's statement resonate even more than previous efforts. It's not necessarily a new direction for him, but it feels more seeking, more urgently human.

Electronic music is difficult to execute, especially when the focus is on looping with little deviation in melody and texture. If you're a guy like Willner, though, you know how draw out an impact normally reserved for tighter song spaces found mostly in clubs where the collective attention span of the crowd is similar to that of a goldfish. If his albums were laid out like a heart monitor recording on paper, you'd see a blip or two every twenty pages or so. His music changes subtley, slightly shifting so that when it happens you really notice. Instead of dropping beats to instantly produce chills, he subtracts and then adds, then subtracts again, slowly constructing a sensory effect. It's an equation whose sum ends up being more like vein-flooding than gut-punching.

Not too surprisingly, the shortest song on the album clocks in at 9:29. But these songs need a big space to work their slow magic. Tinged with darkness, 'The Follower' has a beat that swirls with confusion, but gains a more solid footing halfway through. The guitar-like screeching at the end is oddly inspiring, beckoning. Perhaps it can be seen a call to follow as the title would imply.

'Pink Sun' has a mournful quality with a minor-keyed, looped guitar effect and occasional bursts of time signature changes. It's the effect of a warm sunrise, its pulse like that of a heat vibration delivered in regular intervals.

'Monte Verita' - translated as "Hill of Truth" - is named after a hill in Switzerland which was the "...site of many different Utopian and cultural events and communities since the beginning of the twentieth century" according to Wikipedia. The main vocal sample is ghostly, calling to mind some ancient ritual performed by an intellectually advanced, prescient civilization.

The echoey 'Soft Streams' is soothing and utterly hypnotic. It feels shapeless and encompassing, blanketing you in the unfamiliar, but organic enough to remind you of home. The focus is more on the surrounding haziness than the actual beat.

'Raise the Dead' is so seamless you hardly know when the beats begin, and by the time you realize they've appeared it feels like they were there from the beginning. Waiting ten minutes for the resolve at the end is entirely worth it.

Willner continues his minimalist techno reign as The Field with The Follower. It's not so much a progression, but more of a honing, or perfecting if you will. Like any good music in and of itself, you don't need lyrics to feel it or grasp any solid sort of meaning. These euphoric moments are repetitiously highlighted as drawn out epics like clouds moving slowly across a vast, barren landscape, dotted with a morse code for the soul that relies on patience to translate. It might not be an S.O.S., but its message seems important nonetheless.

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